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Time to Measure Up

November 17, 2020, 10:38 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Today, Fortune and Refinitiv join forces to launch Measure Up, which is designed to hold companies to account on their diversity and inclusion efforts. We all know that what gets measured gets managed—or at the very least, what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed—so as an essential first step, we are challenging companies to collect and report their D&I data.

You might be surprised to learn how few companies do this today. I certainly was. In part, that’s because collecting such data isn’t simple. As Refinitiv CEO David Craig wrote in this recent blog post, the act of asking employees “What race are you?” quickly puts you into “deeply personal territory, bound up with feelings of identity and history.” But there’s no way to understand how companies are progressing on this key front without asking that question. Refinitiv has now done so with its employees. Fortune will do the same with ours. And we are challenging other companies to join us, and report the results. They can learn how at Refinitiv’s ESG data collection tool, here.

At Fortune, we have long seen the power of transparency and rankings in making business better. We believe our Most Powerful Women’s list, launched in 1998, helped raise women to some of the top jobs in the corporate world. We have seen our 100 Best Companies to Work For list, also launched in 1998, raise the bar for employee engagement and well-being at many of the world’s best companies. And more recently, the Fortune Change the World list has focused attention on companies that are addressing social problems as part of their core business strategy. Using the new D&I data, we will launch next year a list ranking the most progressive companies in racial inclusion. Consider this an important turning point.

“We believe the Measure Up initiative with Fortune will help put racial equality right at the top of every corporate agenda through better data,” Craig told me yesterday. “We have already received a lot of enquiries and interest on how to disclose, suggesting companies are serious about disclosing their progress, and the gaps they have on racial equality.”

Separately, I caught up briefly yesterday with a very busy Noubar Afeyan, whose Flagship Pioneering gave birth to Moderna, which just announced its new COVID vaccine had 94% effectiveness in early tests. The Moderna vaccine uses similar MRNA technology as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which also shows over 90% efficacy, but has a delivery method that doesn’t require extreme cold storage. Afeyan said the Moderna vaccine can be stored for six months at minus twenty degrees, for a month in a normal refrigerator, and can be kept out of the refrigerator for twelve hours and still be functional. (The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70 degrees Centigrade.)

All of this bodes well for having good vaccine options distributed to a broad population by “Q2 of next year,” Afeyan says. And perhaps even more promising are the potential uses of MRNA technology beyond COVID to create a host of health care treatments in the years ahead. “If ever there was a paradigm shift in therapeutics, this is a paradigm shift.” No doubt that’s why Moderna’s share price has jumped to nearly $100 from under $20 at the beginning of the year. (BioNTech has gone from $34 to $91.)

To learn more about Afeyan and how he helped launch Moderna, listen to our interview with him earlier this summer on Fortune’s Leadership Next podcast. And catch Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass on this week’s episode of Leadership Next, available on Apple or Spotify.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Biden meeting

"Unions are going to have increased power" under the Biden administration, the president-elect said in a meeting yesterday with not only union leaders, but CEOs such as General Motors' Mary Barra, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Target's Brian Cornell and Gap's Sonia Syngal. Biden: "You all have different perspectives on how we can best deal with the virus. And how we can make sure workers and small businesses stay safe, and we get back to rolling like we should… We’re pretty much in lockstep. We agree that we can’t just build back [after COVID], we need to build back better." CNBC

Markets bask

Yesterday's promising vaccine news from Moderna helped the Dow and S&P 500 hit new highs, and Moderna's own stock jumped 9.6%. Tesla's shares also leapt by as much as 12% following its long-awaited inclusion in the S&P 500, an event that was delayed by the world's most valuable car company's now-cured allergy to profitability. The Dow is now a mere 449 points shy of the 30,000 mark. Fortune

Selling Honor

As Sting once sang, kinda: If you love your budget smartphone brand, set it free. That's what Huawei is doing with its Honor subsidiary, thanks to U.S. sanctions starving it of chips. Selling Honor will allow the unit to survive, Huawei said today. The buyer is a consortium of Honor resellers and suppliers, called Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co. The price is undisclosed, but it's reported to be in the region of $15 billion. Fortune

European crisis

Europe has been plunged into a crisis with no clear way out, after Hungary and Poland blocked the bloc's budget and pandemic-recovery package. The countries are irked by a new mechanism that allows the EU to withhold funds from members states that violate the rule of law in certain circumstances. Hungary and Poland are major recipients of EU funds, but they have made it impossible for the EU to borrow the money it needs for the recovery fund. Politico


Going cheap

A year ago, International Consolidated Airlines Group (the owner of BA and Iberia) said it was going to buy Spanish carrier Air Europa for €1 billion ($1.2 billion) in cash. Then the pandemic happened, as did a €475 million bailout for Air Europa from the Spanish government. Now, according to Spanish media, IAG has managed to get the purchase price all the way down to the €300-€400 million range, with the payment in shares this time. Reuters

EasyJet revenue

Want an optimist's take on what many may see as a pit of despair for the aviation sector? Here's EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, whose low-cost carrier saw revenue more than halved in the year to the end of September: "The longer these travel restrictions are in place, it actually increases pent-up demand." CNBC

German measures

German Chancellor Angela Merkel failed yesterday to convince state premiers that the country's "lockdown lite" should be intensified, for example by forcing school pupils to wear masks during lessons. Merkel after their meeting: "We still have a long way to go but the good news is that we have halted the exponential growth for now." The Local

Georgia counts

Fortune's Geoff Colvin interviewed KPMG principal John Gimigliano, a former senior tax counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee, about the prospects for President-elect Biden's tax plans and their potential effects on business. The big point: unless the Democrats win both of the runoffs to pick Georgia's senators, Biden's proposals don't stand a chance of getting anywhere. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.